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Latest Research in Brain Cancer

Across the world, radiation oncologists are actively researching safe and effective radiation treatments, including more personalized approaches and studies of lower doses for a variety of cancers. The following research studies were presented during the ASTRO Annual Meeting in October 2020. Annually, ASTRO hosts the largest gathering of radiation oncology professionals in the world to share the latest science and research, all designed to improve patient care, support clinical practice and advance science and research in the field of radiation oncology. 

The information provided below highlights the research provided in the studies included in the Best of ASTRO onDemand course. This information is not intended as medical advice. It is important to review and discuss all treatment options, including radiation therapy with your primary care physician before determining which option or combination of options is best for you and your lifestyle. 

Studies in Brain Cancers

Discussant: Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD
Patient Takeaways prepared by Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD, and Shiram Kharod, MD

  • Radiotherapy approaches for primary and metastatic brain tumor patients are evolving, with a focus on sparing of normal structures.
    • However, higher doses of IMRT radiotherapy does not improve overall survival in patients with glioblastoma when compared with standard doses.
  • Glioblastomas are very aggressive and often incurable brain tumors, despite treatment with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
    • A new phase II trial was created to see whether adding Metformin, a commonly prescribed medicine used for diabetes, to existing treatments can improve cure rates for glioblastoma.
    • In this study, adding Metformin was found to be associated with improved treatment outcomes, though the sample size was small, and more data will be needed before making this a standard practice.
  • When cancer spreads to the brain, there are different forms of radiation that is prescribed, depending on the size, number and location of the new cancerous spots.
    • We’ve just learned from a new phase III randomized controlled trial that we can use stereotactic radiosurgery, a very precise and focused type of radiation treatment, to treat patients who have four to 15 separate spots of cancer in their brain.
    • This is important, because in the past, radiation to the entire brain would have to be prescribed for these patients. By being able to treat these patients with more precise forms of radiation, they will likely experience fewer side effects, such as changes in cognitive function, than before.
    • Novel trials and novel imaging may allow better targeting of tumors and better preservation of neurocognitive function among patients with brain tumors.

Download the PDF of the Best of ASTRO Patient Takeaways